Honorary Degree Citation - André Chagnon

by Michel Magnan, June 2004

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Mr. André Chagnon, Founder and Director of Vidéotron Ltée, Founder and Director of the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation.

Four years ago, M. André Chagnon sold the company he built from the ground up, Le Groupe Videotron, to focus exclusively on the Lucie and Andre Chagnon Foundation. This extraordinary organization is dedicated to poverty prevention and disease prevention. Its unique structure, the brainchild of M. Chagnon and his wife Lucie, is setting the standard for organizations of its kind, attacking oppressive social problems at their source.

Nous rendons hommage à M. André Chagnon aujourd'hui, non seulement pour l'immense apport social de sa fondation, maispour n'avoir jamais failli à son engagement de donner priorité à des valeurs comme le respect des personnes et la probité et pour avoir fait la preuve que l'honneur et l'intégrité peuvent bel et bien constituer un plan d'affaires.

M. Chagnon's father was an electrician, and after receiving his degree from l'Ecole Technique de Montreal, he worked for his father as an electrical artisan. During this period, the single most important event of his life took place... he met Lucie and he fell in love.

He wanted to marry her so desperately that he took a new job to earn more money, at the Commission Electric Service.

Lucie said yes. During his time at the Commission M. Chagnon specialized in laying undergound conducts.

Il a plus tard lancé Chagnon Électrique, sa propre société d'entrepreneur en électricité qu'il a exploitée pendant sept ans avant de la vendre à ses employés pour se concentrer sur les services de câblo distribution. Chagnon Électrique est toujours en activité, et la société est demeurée entre les mains de quatre générations issues des familles mêmes qui l'avaient acquise à l'origine.

But this is truly the hallmark of M. Chagnon's approach to business; he understands very deeply the interconnection of career, family, society and friendship. All these things are bound by hard work and honesty, and to each of these institutions one must be responsible and respectful. Profit is the side effect of respect, respect for your employees, your customers and all those who rely on them; their families and their friends.

Of course, we know the history of Le Groupe Videotron, the cable company Mr. Chagnon founded in 1964. It grew to become one of Canada's and one of the world's best telecommunication companies. M. Chagnon and his team are recognized for their many innovations in many aspects of multimedia systems and, at the time of its multi-billion dollar purchase in 2000, Videotron was a leader in all its markets. And to think, he got into this business so he would have enough money to marry!

Encore aujourd'hui, l'énergie et l'intelligence remarquables de M. Chagnon contribuent à redéfinir la structure même des oeuvres de bienfaisance au Canada. Sa fondation s'est donné pour mission de traiter non pas les symptômes de la pauvreté et de la maladie, mais leurs causes profondes. C'est pourquoi elle entend créer des programmes durables. «Notre but, explique M. Chagnon, consiste à redonner à la société le type de richesses qu'elle nous a permis d'acquérir. » La fondation aborde la problématique de la pauvreté et des soins de santé préventifs dans une toute nouvelle perspective. «Méfiez-vous de qui veut à tout prix vous aider », d'affirmer M. Chagnon. Pareil sentiment ne peut être que celui d'un homme animé d'un respect foncier pour autrui et possédant une profonde compréhension de la condition humaine.

If you asked him which of his accomplishments he is proudest of, Le Groupe Videotron, Chagnon Electric, or The Foundation, it would be hard to know what he might answer. I suspect he might say meeting and marrying Lucie.

Of course, we honour him to day for all these things, and for remaining true to his beliefs and for being someone who represents the very best in business and in society.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honor to present to you Mr. André Chagnon so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.